As with other Parliaments, the Legislative Assembly has taken advantage of the smaller size and greater flexibility of committees to perform certain functions. These include the questioning of witnesses and the detailed consideration of financial and technical matters. Committee work provides detailed information to Members on issues of concern and may provoke important public debate.
Parliamentary committees allow for greater accountability of the
executive branch of government by enabling MLAs to scrutinize government activity. In particular, the “public scrutiny committees,” such as the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations, provide the Legislative Assembly with a greater opportunity to examine the actions of the provincial public service and
Cabinet ministers. In the course of this work, Members may review government policies and activities, and can summon Cabinet ministers and other government officials to appear before the committee to explain administrative decisions.
Parliamentary committees also encourage the policy and administrative functions of government to be open and accountable, namely by giving the public more access to parliamentary processes and ensuring that MLAs have more involvement in and oversight of decision making. Committees also provide a forum for investigating matters of public importance and can give MLAs the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of such issues. At the same time, parliamentary committees enhance the democratic process by encouraging the public to contribute directly to the work of the Legislative Assembly.
Did You Know?
Every year, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services holds a province-wide
public consultation for the upcoming provincial budget. British Columbians are invited to share their thoughts, ideas, and priorities through a variety of participation options. The Committee then reviews all the input received and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly for the next provincial budget, enabling all citizens to directly participate in Legislative Assembly business.